Calling all celiacs! If you think you’ll never eat wheat bread again, think again. Some bread-loving Italian researchers have discovered that slow-fermented sourdough bread may be safe for people with celiac disease.
Over the past few years, researchers have been experimenting with sourdough fermentation as a means for making traditional wheat bread safe for people with celiac disease. Recently, yet another study examined the safety of this process with great results. While the study was small, it did show that individuals with celiac disease who ate specially prepared sourdough wheat bread over the course of 60 days experienced no ill effects.
This traditional fermentation process begins by “growing” strains of bacteria and yeast together in what bakers call the “starter.” When the flour is then added to the “starter,” the organisms produce enzymes that act on the gluten protein and thus hydrolysis begins. Hydrolysis is the breakdown of larger particles into smaller ones, specifically amino acids. These amino acids are no longer toxic to individuals who are sensitive to gluten.
If you’re familiar with the role that gluten has in baking, you may be wondering why the sourdough bread keeps its structure, even though the gluten structure is destroyed. This is likely because part of gluten protein remains after fermentation and is responsible for holding the sourdough bread’s shape.
While more research needs to be done to determine the specifics, there is great promise for gluten-sensitive bread-lovers. It seems that healthy bacteria may solve more than constipation. These bacteria could give an even brighter outlook to someone with celiac disease, by allowing them to partake in the wondrous world of bread, pizza crust and other sourdough baked goods.
Try baking at home with these classic Sourdough Recipes.